National Carers' Strategy

Question No. 792 answered with Question No. 764.

Ceisteanna (791)

Colm Burke

Ceist:

791. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to reviewing and updating the national carers' strategy and the implementation of an action plan for the period 2020-23; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26401/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

My Department is responsible for coordinating the cross-departmental 2012 National Carers’ Strategy, which sets the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government Departments and agencies for family carers. The Strategy contains actions to recognise, support and empower carers to manage their physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing across four national goals:

- Recognise the value and contribution of carers and promote their inclusion in decisions relating to the person they are caring for;

- Support carers to manage their physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing;

- Support carers to care with confidence through the provision of adequate information, training, services and supports;

- Empower carers to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life. 

The Programme for Government commits to reviewing and updating the National Carers' Strategy.  As an initial step in engaging with key stakeholders in relation to this process, my colleague,  the Minister for Mental Health and Older People recently held a roundtable in my Department to hear directly from family carers about their experience of caring, in particular, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Question No. 792 answered with Question No. 764.

Maternity Services

Ceisteanna (793)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

793. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if there is a maternity care Covid-19 taskforce to deal with such care during the Covid-19 crisis; and if not, the reason therefor. [26415/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

My Department is engaging regularly with the HSE’s National Women and Infants Health Programme in relation to COVID-19 related issues in maternity services.

The Programme, which was established to lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecological and neonatal services across primary, community and acute care, is working with the Clinical Leads for Maternity/Women’s Health and Directors of Midwifery in each of the six Hospital Groups on COVID-19 related issues.

The Programme has provided assurance that the midwifery and obstetric community are committed to ensuring that the impact of COVID-19 on the pregnancy and birthing experience of every women should be kept to an absolute minimum.  

The Deputy may wish to note that the Programme has developed a guidance document on restrictions in maternity hospitals/units and this issued to all maternity services last week. The paper seeks to ensure a consistent national approach to visitor restrictions, as far as is practicable and having due regard to local circumstances.  Each maternity service / network has been requested to review visiting arrangements on a weekly basis, in the context of the issues and factors identified in the paper.

Maternity Services

Question No. 795 answered with Question No. 764.

Ceisteanna (794)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

794. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the current staffing ratio for maternity care; if the birth rate plus standard for midwifery staffing has been reached; and if not, the reason therefor. [26416/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service issue, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.

Question No. 795 answered with Question No. 764.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (796)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

796. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if it is a policy of the HSE to categorise a person as a close contact requiring testing and possibly self-isolation if he or she is identified as such by the Covid-19 tracker application in circumstances (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26430/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published Guidance for Educational Settings relating to the management of Covid-19 in school settings.

This guidance, which includes protocols relating to the management of close contacts, is available at www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/educationguidance/.

There is ongoing consideration given by the Government to policy in relation to the management of Covid-19 in school settings.

The Deputy may wish to note that schools must have a Covid-19 Response Plan and a Covid policy in place.

Up-to-date Government advice and resources for schools, parents and students in the context of COVID-19, including advice on Covid-19 planning is published at www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (797)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

797. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if he will categorise teachers as essential workers who should be fast-tracked for Covid-19 tests in the same way as health workers are; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26431/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Ireland is pursuing a robust testing strategy under the guidance of NPHET and NPHET will continue to consider and review, based on public health risk assessments, how best to target testing to hunt the virus in populations where it’s most likely and where it will do most harm.

We now have capacity in place to test 15,000 people a day (100,000 tests a week).  Over 85,000 lab tests were completed in the last week, one of the highest weekly amounts to date.  The HSE advises that current demand nationally is being met, so the need for special categorisation referred to by the Deputy does not arise at this point.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published Guidance for Educational Settings relating to the management of Covid-19 in school settings.

This guidance is available at www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/educationguidance/.

As stated by the HPSC, If a contact is an adult, including teachers, they are dealt with under the published adult close contact protocols and information on restricted movement.

The Deputy may also wish to note that schools must have a Covid-19 Response Plan and a Covid policy in place. Up-to-date Government advice and resources for schools, parents and students in the context of COVID-19, including advice on Covid-19 planning is published at www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

Mental Health Policy

Ceisteanna (798)

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

798. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a campaign by a group (details supplied) regarding the discrepancies in funding for different avenues of third-level education within the wider psychological sphere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26432/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In relation to the particular query raised, this is a matter for the Health Service Executive. I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question No. 800 answered with Question No. 764.

Question No. 801 answered with Question No. 774.

Ceisteanna (799)

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

799. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health if the Covid-19 tracker application will be updated such that when a person is identified as a close contact and takes the necessary action, his or her close contact notification expires in order that he or she is able to receive future notifications. [26433/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy’s question - whether a person is identified as a close contact and takes the necessary action their close contact notification expires to enable them to receive future notifications - is not a feature of how the Covid Tracker app functions. Users of the app do not have to wait for one notification to 'expire' in order for the app user to receive a further notification - triggered by another individual being confirmed as Covid positive.

The app downloads information on close contacts every 15 to 20 minutes and should it be necessary to alert a user of the app that they have been in close contact with another individual who has been confirmed Covid positive, they will receive a separate alert specific to that encounter. This happens regardless of whether they are still taking the necessary actions associated with a previous and separate close contact notification or if it is the first notification they have ever received.

Question No. 800 answered with Question No. 764.
Question No. 801 answered with Question No. 774.

Tobacco Control Measures

Ceisteanna (802)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

802. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health if standardised format price lists for display in shops are to be implemented for the sale of tobacco products to consumers under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts to dissuade the promotion of cheap cigarettes to young persons; if his attention has been drawn to the dangers of cheap cigarette advertising to young persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26440/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The advertising of tobacco products in retail premises is prohibited under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002-2015. This prohibition is subject to the obligation of a retailer under the EU (Requirements to Indicate Product Prices) Regulation 2002 to display a price for products which they offer for sale. If the Deputy has been made aware of retail premises contravening the prohibition on tobacco advertising I would encourage her to bring this to the attention of the Environmental Health Service of the Health Service Executive which is responsible for enforcement matters in this area.

Ambulance Service

Ceisteanna (803)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

803. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health when the €350,000 allocated to the ambulance base in County Carlow which was committed to by the previous Government will be provided; when he expects works to begin; when County Carlow will have an ambulance base which is fit for purpose; his views on whether it is acceptable for a town the size of Carlow not to have its own ambulance base and not to receive communication from the HSE in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26441/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery and management of healthcare infrastructure.  Capital spend on Ambulance bases / facilities is prioritised by the National Ambulance Service to meet the requirements of those bases with highest needs. 

The HSE has advised remedial works to the value of approximately €50,000 were carried out at Carlow ambulance base located in Carlow town at the Carlow Health Services Complex, Athy Road, Carlow (St. Dympna’s Hospital).  These works addressed work requirements to make the ambulance base fit for purpose.

Medical Cards

Ceisteanna (804)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

804. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the reason medical card patients are being charged €20 for a flu vaccine, which is meant to be free in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26442/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the at-risk groups, regardless of eligibility status and including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive.

The expanded programme will ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of influenza will have access to vaccination without charges. By providing vaccination to those most at-risk, and those most likely to require hospitalisation if they contract influenza, it is anticipated that the programme will see a reduction in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions, as well as a reduction in the overall spread of influenza in the community.

A person who holds a medical card or GP visit card, but who is not in one of the at-risk categories and who wishes to be vaccinated may be charged a fee.

Occupational Therapy

Ceisteanna (805)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

805. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health when progress will be made on reducing waiting times in counties Carlow and Kilkenny for occupational therapy assessments, especially for those in routine and non-urgent categories; the reason for the current backlog of up to a full year for a visit to a person's home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26443/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I understand that the Deputy is referring to assessments for Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability.

My colleague, Darragh O'Brien, TD,  Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has policy remit for Housing Adaption Grants. 

In the Carlow and Kilkenny areas, these assessments are undertaken by Occupational Therapists engaged by the Local Authority. The arrangement of these Occupational Therapy appointments therefore is a matter for the relevant Local Authority and, as such, does not fall under the remit of the Department of Health.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (806)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

806. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to address increased demand for Covid-19 tests and facilitating those who do not have transportation; if the current demand on the ambulance service to support this service is under pressure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26444/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (807)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

807. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health if the flu vaccine is being added to the school vaccination programme in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26445/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years.  

The expanded programme will ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of influenza will have access to vaccination without charges. By providing vaccination to those most at-risk, and those most likely to require hospitalisation if they contract influenza, it is anticipated that the programme will see a reduction in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions, as well as a reduction in the overall spread of influenza in the community.

This programme is being offered through GP’s and pharmacists and is not being delivered as a schools-based programme, as not all eligible children are of school age.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Question No. 809 answered with Question No. 774.

Ceisteanna (808)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

808. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health if funding is being allocated to a service (details supplied) to cover extra costs involved in the recruitment of cleaners to comply with Covid-19 public health recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26446/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way. 

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.

Question No. 809 answered with Question No. 774.

Speech and Language Therapy

Ceisteanna (810)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

810. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health when progress will be made on reducing waiting times in early intervention speech and language therapy in counties Carlow and Kilkenny for assessments; if a timeline can be provided for the reduction of the current backlog of three years; if a speech and language therapy vacancy (details supplied) has been filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26448/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way.

The Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.